Sheriffs, HB2 and the NC Values Coalition

The North Carolina Sheriff's Association has touted its support for HB2. The Association is a tax-exempt non-profit and acts an as advocacy, organizational and training group for NC's 100 county sheriffs.

I've been wondering if any group fighting HB2 has bothered to canvas all 100 sheriff's offices to see if they individually agree with the Association's stance on HB2. I would like to see, in particular, a list of individual sheriff's that have expressed support for the law and if they're being challenged in the next election cycle by an opponent who is not supporting the law.

There's been several questions raised by the media about the NC Sheriff's Association, particularly the millions it has banked and how much it is paid to the leader of the group from fundraising. The sheriff of Wake County asked the Association not to use his name in their heavy-handed fundraising tactics, noting that some citizens thought there would be consequences if they didn't donate to the group.

According to an article in the Burlington Times-News, Terry Johnson, the sheriff of Alamance, along with the sheriffs of Davie and Rockingham counties attended a rally organized by the North Carolina Values Coalition in support of HB2 in Raleigh.

This brings to mind a few concerns:

*Can individual sheriff's lobby lawmakers or use county or state funding to attend political rallies like this?

*Already, one blogger has written about being "profiled" as transgender and being harassed by a police officer when they went to use a public restroom. Could public support of HB2 by an individual sheriff, lobbying for HB2, or attending a rally be used by the ACLU, Equality NC, or another group to establish a pattern of discrimination or harassment against transgender people in some counties?

*Should the NC Sheriff's Association's non-profit, tax exempt status be called in to question since it appears to be acting as a lobbying organization with state legislators

*The fact that the Sheriff's Association so strongly supports HB2, while at the same time promotes its work in training sheriffs in areas like ethics, really brings into question exactly what the organization is teaching and advocating to its members. Support of HB2 shows a fundamental misunderstanding of who transgender people are. It makes me wonder what the group may be telling sheriffs about transgenders or LGBTs in general. Are there any records of speakers at Sheriff's Association events, seminars and workshops? Are there speakers there from the NC Values Coalition or other extremist evangelical or right-wing groups?

*Could someone explain to me what's going on with the NC Sheriff's Association's procurement program? It appears to act as a central clearinghouse for bidding on vehicles and equipment for county sheriff's offices around the state and also offers the same services for other county services, like garbage collection. Maybe it's just me, but that seems like a program ripe for abuse, particularly if management of the program is with a non-profit not held accountable to local or state government.

*Are there other sheriffs - besides Wake - that have distanced themselves from the Association for one reason or another?

I think some reporters at IndyWeek or even a larger national outlet like the NY Times could make an interesting story about the role, power and influence of the NC Sheriff's Association in NC politics. How about it?

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